The DNA diet: Is the secret to weight loss in your genes?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - When we first learned about the so-called DNA diet, Pulkit Sang swore by it.  He still does.

"I'll start at a level three on the treadmill, then go up to a six and then a nine and back down again.  I'll do that for about 20 or 30 minutes," Sang said.

He says he's learned what his body needs at the genetic level and that helped him drop pounds and keep them off.

Just two years ago he was more than 50 pounds heavier and had the frustration of trying diet after diet, only to achieve limited and temporary success.

"Every time a new diet fad comes around your ears perk up and you think is this the one?" Sang said.

It was his parents who told him about the Weight Management Genetic Test.  To get a look at the science the company claims is behind it, click here.  Essentially it claims to look at your genes and tell you how to eat and exercise for your body type.

It costs $169.

We asked five WBTV staff members to try the test themselves.  They simply had to swab the inside of their cheek and mail that swab to a lab.

While we waited for their results we visited Dr. John Cleek with Carolinas Weight Management in Charlotte.

Cleek says 60% of obesity is based on genetics.

"We know certain gene types are high risk for breast cancer so why wouldn't there be some for obesity, right?  This test does give you the sense that it's powerful because it makes sense there is great science behind it," Cleek said.

However he's not convinced this company has found THE genes that control our weight.  He adds the field of genotyping is too young to really, truly, have the answer genetically.

Sang's results told him he needed a low carb diet paired with short, high-intensity, exercise.  He said he followed the plan to the letter for one week and lost six pounds.  That was in 2010.  He has since lost 52 pounds and he has kept it off.

He was curious to hear the WBTV results.

Two of our testers were like Sang, told to go with a low carb diet and high intensity exercise. Two were told a low-fat diet with exercise of moderate intensity was best.  The fifth tester learned she could simply eat a balanced diet but she had to do some intense workouts.

"I guess I have genetics on my side with the food, then, it's helping me there," said WBTV Producer LaToya Boyce.

"It didn't really tell me anything I didn't know," added anchor Paul Cameron.

"I think maybe for the person who has tried a bunch of diets and isn't sure which one works best, this might be worth the $169 just to get confirmation they're on the right track," said WBTV promotion producer Brian Baltosiewich.

Now fast-forward six weeks from the time our WBTV testers received their results.

Another letter came in the mail to explain that Interleukin Genetics was updating it's findings.  Those who were told to go low-fat should be following a reduced carb diet instead.  And vice-versa.

"If I had been following the recommendations all that time and had paid for the test only to find the results weren't accurate, it makes me wonder," Brian said.

In fact everyone who ever purchased or took the test got a similar letter.

Interleukin Genetics says anyone who ever purchased or used one of their testing kits got a similar letter.  They say the science didn't change, because they say they were able to study more people over a longer period of time they have better information.

No one's DNA is different but the guidelines for long-term success are.

They modified the rules based on what people actually ate, and whether they lost weight, over time.

They recommend anyone who took the test revisit the guidelines on the company's website to see how their recommendations have been modified.

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